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Old January 8th, 2007, 01:09 PM   #1
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What tripod to use for big lenses????

Hello everyone my question today is; In your own opinion what is the best tripod to use with a big lense with alot of zoom? I talking whole bunches of telophoto goodness. The reason why I ask this question is because there are alot of threads on this form about what tripod is the best, and even though those threads have some great info and opinions I have yet to find one that discusses what tripod people preffer to use with huge telophoto lenses. I use an xl1s w/ 2 doublers and a 400 ef lense which is roughly 175x and my current tripod the bogen 503 w/ 2 stage legs just doesn't get the job done. All I video is wildlife from great distances and its very frustrating when I get the perfect scene something I've been waiting for all day and its ruined because as soon as I let go of the handle the head bounces back and only half the animal is left in view. Even the tiniest movement at this magnifcation is picked up and as some of you may know its extreemly hard to get good clean video at these magnifications. My biggest consern is that I'm going to have to go with the biggest heaviest monster of a tripod I can find to get the results I'm looking for and the bad thing about that is I don't think I could hike around a tripod weighing more than 25 pounds with all my other euipment I'm packing around.

Well before I go buy a new expensive tripod I wanted to see anyone had any recomendations on what they feel is the best equipment that will achive the best footage possible at these magnifications. Thanks for reading and any help would be much appreciated.
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Old January 11th, 2007, 08:15 AM   #2
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Joe, I think what you need most is not a better tripod (though that would help of course) but a better fluid head. The 503 is not bad but compared to a 519 the 503 is a kid's toy (I use both, so I can compare them. Of course there are other heads on the market, but I don't have personal experience with them) .

Perhaps you can tell us what your budget is so somebody can make some suggestions for a head/leg combination you can afford.
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Old January 12th, 2007, 11:13 AM   #3
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Thanks for the relpy. As of now my buget is around $1200 depending on how good a mood the wife is in. I don't mind buying used equipment to get a better performing head for my money as long as its machanicly sound. The cosmetics aren't an issue with me I don't care about little scratches, but thats always a gamble you never know what your going to get.

I've only used the 503 so I guess I don't know what I'm missing out on. All I know from reading posts on this forum is the 503 is ok for the money but just dosen't compair with some of the heads out there. I've been doing alot of research and it seems I can't go wrong with any of the top brands like sachtler, vinten, occonner(I'd have to buy used), cartoni and miller. Everyone has their own opinion of these heads some love sachtler and others say vinten is the only way to go. I think any of these heads would do fine at normal magnifications anything under 20x but I'm wondering if there would be a noticable difference between heads at 175x. I've looked into the ronsrail but I don't know if thats the answer I'm looking for I think I should upgrade my head first.

Here's some info that might help:
My camera wieght ranges between 6lbs & 20lbs depending on what accesories I'm using at the time most of the time its around the 12lbs range.

I would like to have adjustable counter balance but not by exchanging springs. I'd lose them.

I would prefer continual drag but steps would be fine as long as there is more than 5 steps.

I don't need illuminated leveling bubble.

Weight of the head is not an isssue as long as its under 20lbs.

Like I said earlier I don't mind buying used. Cosmetics aren't a consern as long as its machanicly sound.

The most important thing I'm looking for is sturdiness. I want the least amount of vibration transfered from my hand to the video and when I let got of the handle the head stays and I mean stays. I need my stops and starts to be very smooth in all directions.

This is probably to much to ask for with my buget. The best thing for me to do would be for me to test out the heads personaly but I live in a small town and there's no one that has any of these heads. So if anyone has any opinions or comments that could help me out please feel free to share them. thanks
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Old January 12th, 2007, 11:53 AM   #4
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I think what for you're wanting to do you really need a larger tripod they normally use on DV cameras. Even the large broadcast ENG camera tripods have problems with vibration with long lenses. For your money the best bet might be to buy a used ENG or 16mm film tripod perhaps even a 150mm bowl job you want the best results. I've used my old Ronford F4 head with a JVC HD 100 and a Sony Z1, it was great: far, far, better than any DV tripod.
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Old January 12th, 2007, 12:01 PM   #5
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thanks for the reply
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Old January 12th, 2007, 12:03 PM   #6
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Thanks for the reply
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Old January 12th, 2007, 12:08 PM   #7
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Sorry messed up there. Thanks for the reply Brian I'll look into that. I don't know anything about that type of tripod but it sounds like that might be what I'm looking for as long as their not to heavy. I don't think I could pack a tripod around that wieghs more than 30lbs. Sometimes I hike 5 miles back in the wild to video but I'd be willing to pack the extra wieght if its worth it. thanks agian.
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Old January 12th, 2007, 01:05 PM   #8
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They've been used by BBC wildlife film cameramen. If you can get some carbon fibre legs it would help, but it's a 150mm bowl 16mm fluid head, not the heaviest, but not light compared to 100mm heads. I've carried it some distance, however, it might be easier split, with the head in a backpack and the legs carried over the shoulder.
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Old January 12th, 2007, 03:43 PM   #9
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Thanks agian Brian I've been doing some looking around the web and so far I haven't had to much luck on finding very many of these tripods. I have found a few here and there but not much. Do you have any suggestions were I could look?
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Old January 12th, 2007, 04:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Thatcher
Thanks agian Brian I've been doing some looking around the web and so far I haven't had to much luck on finding very many of these tripods. I have found a few here and there but not much. Do you have any suggestions were I could look?
I notice Visual products have a used Ronford F4 fluid head listed for $900.

http://www.visualproducts.com/store03.asp?ID=49&Cat=48

The legs would be seperate.

I notice there's also one for sale on ebay for a higher price.

They're an older head that were more common in the uk, but they're extremely well built.
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Old January 12th, 2007, 07:22 PM   #11
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That looks like a good head for me and it seem like a good price but I don't know. I still can't find very much info on it. Does it have a counter balance system? Also what type of drag control does it have? Thanks agian for all the help I really appreciate it.
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Old January 12th, 2007, 09:35 PM   #12
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The ronford's a great suggestion, though I'd be wary of buying a used fluid head whose age I was unsure of. Heads of that style can be prone to leaking, etc... and often a rebuild will cost you more than a new (and more modern design) head. Not that there's anything wrong with that particular system, it's an old workhorse. But for what you're looking to do, you're kinda out of the realm of DV or even standard film production. Granted, a solid head is a solid head. But for what you're trying to do, I would suggest contacting a local company that shoots football (or similar) sports. While their cameras (and more specifically lenses) will be many magnitudes heavier, thus requiring SERIOUS supports, they work closer to the focal lengths you're talking about. They should have suggestions at least for which factors are most important in the specifics of tripod design.

IMHO, it's less about the head itself (to a point), and more about eliminating vibration everywhere possible. With that kind of magnification, any flex between the lens and the mount will pull things out of focus and cause shake. If you can make the rigidity of your lens, camera, etc.. and everything between absolutely bulletproof, then you've eliminated the biggest challenge. Then your biggest challenge becomes finding a head which has 0 backlash. All heads with true fluid action should be pretty smooth when you're moving... where tripod head design gets tricky is in the application of fluid resistance at the beginning and end of movement. This is where every brand differs. And when you stop, it should absolutely stop too.

None of the current bogen/manfrotto heads can do this. They are inexpensive and work well during a move, but starts and stops are....sloppy across the board. Starting with the Video series, the Sachtlers CAN, as can the Millers (starting with the DS-25), and all of the newer O'connors. If you're going to drop upwards of a couple grand on a tripod, it's worth $200 to fly or drive to the nearest place where you can actually physically test the heads. Internet resellers are great for pricing, but when its a piece of kit you need to use day-in and day-out, the price savings are insignificant - you need to KNOW that it'll work, and you need the confidence of test driving before buying. We can suggest solutions till we're blue in the face, but if it doesn't work for what you do, it's not worth $1 not to mention a few thousand.
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Old January 13th, 2007, 04:45 AM   #13
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I agree you should check out a used fluid head before buying. My reason for suggesting the Ronford F4 was you can get good old ones, they'll last you many years and you might find one on this budget. I know someone who shoots commercials on DigiBeta with an old F4 head.

For long lens work you do need good rigid legs.

There are 4 fluid stages on the F4 and it doesn't have counterbalancing, however, you can adjust the camera on the head for fore/aft balance. There's a replacement model from Ronford that does offer counterbalancing.

The Sachtler Video range is excellent. Vintens tend to be a bit sticky, although they're much better than they used to be. I haven't use a Miller for years (I wasn't that impressed by their old film heads). I've only used the O'Connor on 35mm, currently my fluid head of of choice for that format. I've shot some long lens stuff on the Ronford F7, great control but it's heavy and after carrying it a mile you'd begin to feel it.
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Old January 13th, 2007, 10:18 AM   #14
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Thanks for all the info guys. The bad thing about my situation is right now I probably can't afford a new head thats going to fit my needs. Don't get me wrong there are some nice one's in my range that would be a big step up from what I'm using now. I just want to get the right head and not have to go out and get another in a year, but it's a huge gamble to buy used it might only last another year or 2 then I'd have to either get it fix which can be expensive or buy another. My first choice would be to buy new if at all possible but if I could get a good used head in my price range that normaly cost 4-5 grand then that would be a good second choice.

I'm going to see if I can get any info from any guys that video sporting events thanks for the idea. Does anyone know when and where there will be any shows coming up where I could go test out some heads. I thinks there's something called NABs that everyone is always talking about I'd like to go to one of those they sound like fun.

Well the ronford has my vote so far but I think I'm going to try to test out some heads before I get one or get some more info atleast. I think for my needs the heavier the head the better. Thats one of the things I like about the ronford. All the new heads I can buy in my price range aren't that heavy compaired to the ronford. I could be wrong though.

I did come across one that caught my eye it was the occonor 50. Does anyone have any thoughts on this head? Welll thanks agian guys for all the great advise and info.
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